Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Borscht for Brains

I had borscht for lunch. Everytime I think of borscht I think about how Natalya in Golden Eye (my mom's most favorite James Bond movie) says, with Russian accent, "Borscht for brains". Pretty much every culture in the world has their version of borscht. I think wikipedia says it's originally from Ukraine, but even very traditionally Chinese people like my grandma know how to make a version of it. The version of borscht that I had today was the Hong Kong version, substituting the traditional beets with tomatoes. A typical borscht has potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and a variety of other vegetables and maybe meat. Ours has cubes of beef.

It is really interesting how something so Russian (including surrounding countries) can be such an integral part of Chinese cuisine. Luo Song Tang (Luo Song = phonetic translation of "russian", Tang = soup) is definitely on a traditional Chinese menu, and for the longest time I thought it was something Chinese. I'm 100% sure that my grandma never makes anything non-Chinese, but she does make Luo Song Tang.

Ask me what I'm having for dessert

(papaya! I'm having papaya and borscht! <--not many people can say that)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Arugula Pesto

I had a whole container of fresh baby arugula leftover from a picnic a long time ago. Arugula is my favorite salad leaf. It has the same texture as baby spinach, with a nice mild bitter flavor that isn't unpleasing like dandelion leaves. The leaves weren't wilted but they were definitely not the freshest, so I thought perhaps I could make pesto, because pesto tends to use up a lot of leaves for a small volume. Pesto is typically made with basil, but I didn't have any at the time. The result is something that looks like pesto but tastes entirely novel, like nothing you've ever tasted before. It was pretty good.

a ton of old arugula
some parmesean I found in the dairy drawer
pine nuts
olive oil
a drop of sesame oil
a bit of green onion
one clove of garlic
salt and pepper (i also added white pepper. that stuff is awesome)

I like to fry the garlic and green onion to bring out the flavor before adding it to anything. All you have to do is blend everything together, and PRESTO, you have pesto!

My First Pizza

Due to an abundance of arugula pesto (see other post), I decided the only way to use a ton of it at one time was to make a pizza with pesto sauce.
I did what I usually do when I make things I've never made before (every time I cook), and looked up ingredients online. Since we don't have any yeast, I had to go with yeast-free dough, making the dough a bit tough. Kneading dough is so much fun! I think I had too much fun and produced too much gluten in the dough to add to the toughness. At one point, I was tossing the dough with one hand and talking to Fish online with the other.
It isn't bad if you bake it so that it's like a crispy thin-crust, which was what I was going for in the first place. Also, I mixed in a bit of dried oregano into the dough. It made for a very fragrant bake.

Sliced Roma Tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Slices of chili pepper
cheddar, mozzarella, and Maasdam cheese

The final result wasn't too bad:

Unless it's pepperoni or anchovies, I really think you should put toppings underneath the cheese. The tomatoes were my favorite part.